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Chapter 2 Environmental Laws, Economics and Ethics

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1 Chapter 2 Environmental Laws, Economics and Ethics

2 Overview of Chapter 2 Brief US Environmental History
US Environmental Legislation Economics and the Environment Environmental Ethics, Values and Worldviews

3 Environmental History of the US
17th and 18th Centuries-Frontier Attitude Natural Resources (land, timber soil, water) seemed inexhaustible Widespread Environmental Destruction Establishment of Jamestown, VA Dominated by Frontier Attitude 1600 1700 1800 1900

4 Environmental History of the US
19th century - US Naturalists voiced concerns about natural resources Audobon - painted nature, which increased interest in environment Thoreau - naturalist author on simplifying life Marsh - wrote Man and Nature John James Audobon ( ) Henry David Thoreau ( ) George Perkins Marsh ( ) 1750 1800 1850 1900

5 Environmental History of US
General Revision Act Gave President authority to establish forest reserves Presidents Harrison, Cleveland, Roosevelt Put 17.4 million hectares into reserve President Roosevelt Reserved additional 6.5 million hectares before signing bill preventing further forest reservation 1875 American Forestry Assoc. Formed 1890 Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks Established 1891 General Revision Act 1875 1900 1850

6 Environmental History of US
Utilitarian Conservationist Value natural resources for their usefulness Roosevelt Biocentric Preservationist Protect nature because all life deserves respect John Muir (founded Sierra Club) Fought for National Parks

7 Environmental History of US
Antiquities Act Allows president to set aside sites of scientific or historical importance (monuments) American Dust Bowl (1930s droughts) Basis for Soil Conservation Service Created by Franklin Roosevelt 1906 Antiquities Act 1916 National Park Service Created 1935 Creation of Soil Conservation Service 1900 1925 1950

8 Environmental History of US
20th Century Naturalists Leopold - Author (A Sand Country Almanac) Stegner - Author (Wilderness Essay) Carson - Author (Silent Spring) Heightened awareness of DDT and pesticides Aldo Leopold ( ) Wallace Stegner ( ) Rachel Carson ( ) 1900 1925 1950 1975


10 US Environmental Legislation
Environmental Protection Agency Est. 1970 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Cornerstone of Environmental Law Requires Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) for any proposed federal action Ex: highway or dam construction Revolutionized environmental protection in US

11 Environmental Impact Statement

12 US Environmental Legislation
Numerous laws passed since 1970 They address: Clean water Clean air Energy conservation Hazardous waste Pesticides Federal regulation of pollution





17 Effects of Environmental Legislation
Since 1970 Six air pollutants have dropped by 25% Since 1990 wet sulfate levels decreased 20–35% As of 2007 90% of US had healthy drinking water (up from 75% in 1993) As of 2006 45% of municipal waste is burned as waste-to-energy or recovered for recycling Human exposure to hazardous waste sites identified in 1969 is below 93%

18 Economics and the Environment
Economics - study of how people use limited resources to satisfy unlimited wants Analytical tools include models

19 Precepts to study Economics
Economics is utilitarian Goods and services have value that can be converted to currency Rational Actor Model Assumes all individuals spend limited resources to maximize individual utilities Ideal economy Resources are allocated efficiently

20 Optimum Amount of Pollution
Cost to society of having less pollution is offset by benefits to society of activity creating pollution Must identify Marginal Cost of Pollution - Cost of small additional amount of pollution Marginal Cost of Abatement - Cost of reducing small amount of pollution

21 Economic Optimum Amount of Pollution

22 Private vs Social Cost of Pollution

23 Strategies for Pollution Control
Command and Control Solutions Government agency requires limitations to emissions or pollutants Discourages development of low-cost alternatives Environmental Taxes/Tradable Permits If taxes are set at correct level private marginal cost of pollution = social cost of pollution

24 Effect of Tax on Optimum Pollution

25 Critiques of Environmental Economics
Difficult to assess true costs of environmental pollution and abatement Impacts of pollution on people and nature is uncertain Ecosystem services have no known value Utilitarian economics may not be appropriate Dynamic changes and time are not considered

26 National Income Accounts
Estimates of National Economic Performance and used in Politics Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Net Domestic Product (NDP) Environment may be overexploited to yield a higher GDP in developing countries EPI (Environmental Performance Index) Assesses a country’s commitment to environmental and resource management


28 Environmental Justice
The right of every citizen regardless of age, race and gender, social class or other factor, to adequate protection from environmental hazards Generally, members of low income and minority communities: Face more environmental threats and have fewer environmental amenities Have less voice in planning

29 Environmental Justice
Challenge of environmental justice To find equitable solutions that respect all groups of people Local issue National issue International issue

30 Environmental Ethics Field of ethics that considers the moral basis of environmental responsibility Western Worldview Human superiority and dominance over nature Deep Ecology Worldview All species have an equal worth to humans Most people’s ethics fall somewhere in between

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